I am please to welcome Amanda Keeney, debut author and good friend of mine. On July 22nd, she released her work to the public for the very first time, with her short story, Forgiveness: Alek and Rose. Forgiveness is the first of four short stories that Keeney will release. In addition to that, she is preparing to release the first book of her Kingston Hearts Series, A Whisper of Hope, in December.
Read on to learn more about Forgiveness: Alek and Rose, read Amanda’s exclusive interview, and my review of Forgiveness.
Alek and Rose had been best friends for years. They have also been in love with one another for just as long, without letting one another know. A night of celebrations turned out for the worst when Rose leaves without a trace. She is gone for just over a year with no contact with anyone, not even her best friend. No one knows why she left, except one man, who won’t tell anyone for fear of getting himself into more than one kind of trouble.
After losing something precious and undergoing a harsh recovery Rose has returned home to face her demons and finally acknowledge her feelings for Alek, through her loss she realized she needed to live life to the fullest. Her goal when she shows up to town is, to tell Alek the truth of what happened, admit how she feels, and hope that he feels the same way.
10 Questions With Amanda Keeney
- Wow, you did it! Your first published story! How does it feel?
It feels, well I feel so many things. I am excited, scared, nervous, overjoyed, and overwhelmed. Overall I am just really proud of myself. I never thought this day would come to be honest. I never had a lot of confidence in myself, until recently and with the help of a few new friends that helped out a lot.
- Forgiveness is a short story; one of four. What was it like writing a short story compared to a full-length novel?
Well, I don’t have a lot of experience, but I think a short story is hard based on the fact you don’t need to, nor should you, go into every little detail. Finding out what is necessary is hard. A novel, from what I have gathered, you still don’t necessarily want to do that, but you have more freedom to be a little wordier without making your reader too informed. Finding a focus is tough for a short story and keeping within that focus. I’d like to say I did pretty well for my first attempt and with what I have learned during the process I’ll take into making the second one better.
- The short stories began as the result of a writing prompt. What, specifically, inspired you about Alek and Rose’s story?
Aw. You remembered. Well, the prompt was basically, “bring two people together, one of which has a huge secret” that being said, I honestly couldn’t tell you where the story came from, other than a friend had recently told me about a miscarriage, and her emotions spoke to me, then when Rose leaves, well if I were in that situation I could totally see myself doing what she did. I just went with it and let it flow.
- Tell us a little bit about the next short, Saved: Luke & Emma.
Much like the first, this story is about a couple coming together where both parties kept their feelings locked up due to friendship and other insecurities. In this story Emma, well she is promiscuous, and although Luke loves her and is a little more open about his feelings compared to Alek in Forgiveness, Emma doesn’t take Luke serious and brushes off his advances because she doesn’t understand how he can love her knowing her secrets. Basically, one of Emma’s lovers is abusive, and Luke has to be a hero and save (hence the title) his damsel in distress. That is when Emma realizes Luke isn’t playing around with his feelings.
- What was the total writing experience like for you? And how did it match up against what you thought it would be like? Easier? Harder?
When I dreamed of writing, I never doubted it would be hard. Even as an adolescent I knew there was a lot more than “just writing” to it, but honestly the amount of effort, sweat, and yes tears was/is one of the hardest and best experiences of my life. (Besides giving birth of course) It has changed me as a person. I am far from perfect, no writer is, but I have learned so much in this time. Being able to see MY book (novelette) on places such as Amazon.com is an awesome feeling and a huge accomplishment. I honestly feel whole. As with what I have learned, I know now that I CAN do and be a better writer as long as I keep trying and take the advice I have been given from other writers as well. I won’t shun advice or feedback, but I won’t change my style just to please others.
- What are some of the things you learned with this process that will help you for the next publication?
I have learned several things. I’ve gotten better at forming better sentences that flow more smoothly, when I first started my sentences were very choppy, and now I have new tools to make them better. A new thing I have learned involves dialogue, and I intend to correct the issues I have in my current WIP. Oh gosh, the list is probably almost never ending. In a few months I went from knowing basically nothing, to feeling much more confident in my skills. Another thing I struggled with is feedback; it isn’t fun to see how many errors you have. All that red in quite scary and sad, BUT most of the time, the feedback isn’t meant to bring you down, but help you get better. You have to have a tough outer shell and just take the blows.
- Speaking of which, let’s talk about A Whisper of Hope, your first novel in the Kingston Hearts series, due in December. Give us the basics.
Well, since I have restarted it from basically scratch, yes the storyline is basically the same, but vital parts of the main character has changed. I intend to write a Romantic suspense, but as I reread through it, well it didn’t read like it.
So far I have changed the age of Sage, added a brand new character, and a lot more.
The story is about Sage Collins, who as a young child was abused sexually. As she grows up, as a foster child, and ward of the state of Montana, she keeps herself very sheltered never really opening up to others until Detective Alton (Jeremy). When her past shows back up she is forced to allow someone to help her, which is no small feat for Sage. She is independent and doesn’t like to rely on others. BUT this time she allows two detectives to take charge and save her from Trevor. It’s a story of heartache and love where the bad guy forces the victim to run into the arms of her savior. It’s a romance, and there will be sappy love stuff, just because I am all about love.
- How are your characters in Forgiveness (Alek, Rose) different from your characters in A Whisper of Hope (Sage, Jeremy)? How are they different?
Wow, this is a really tough question. Okay so I’ll start with Alek vs. Jeremy: Alek is headstrong and has more of a temper by far, though that isn’t to say Jeremy doesn’t have a temper, but he is more reserved; a gentle soul. Alek is the one who was hurt whereas Sage is the one in A Whisper of Hope. Jeremy I think is a lot sweeter and more concerned about others’ feelings rather than his own. He is the ultimate sweetheart, but of course he is a typical male so he does stick his foot in his mouth on more than one occasion. Alek can be sweet, but he is cockier.
Sage vs. Rose, well hmm Sage is colder, slightly angrier, both have been abused and hurt terribly, but both handle it differently. Where Rose runs, Sage stays and shuts down.
Sage hides behind learning and her job, Rose completely leaves. I think Sage is a stronger woman, but Rose tries to be strong. They both have to protect their hearts from the one they love, both feel unworthy of love. Both are pretty inexperienced in the level of intimacy. I don’t know why there both are pretty similar; it’s just how it turned out.
- After the shorts series ends, do you see yourself continuing to write short stories?
I don’t have plans to, but you never know, if it comes to me yeah I will, but mostly after the short series is done, I want to focus on the novel series, and I would love to try my hand at Paranormal romance, but I see that being very difficult. With the 8 books I have planned, right now I hope I don’t get any more ideas right now. LOL
- If you could trade places with any of your characters, who would it be and why?
I wouldn’t want to be either of my main female characters, but in A Whisper of Hope there is Sydney, she is the new character and I love her. She is fun and bubbly as well as outspoken. She is the type to go for what she wants no matter what. When she was first created she was just meant to help Sage move forward in her life, and being Sage’s opposite she brings out a side of Sage you wouldn’t expect. Sydney is tall, blond, and very pretty, but she is also an athlete, something I have always wished I could be, but never was. After much consideration, I may keep her as part of the series, and maybe even do a novella based on her alone, that is the only other idea that has come to me, but it isn’t a total plan, just an idea I may work with.
My Review of Forgiveness
Forgiveness: Alek and Rose is the first of four short stories by Amanda Keeney. It follows the story of Alek and Rose, childhood friends and potentially star-crossed lovers, who had kept their feelings about one another secret for years. After Rose disappears without even a word to Alek, Alek moves on with his life (mostly), but the sting of her departure leaves a permanent scar. When she calls him out of the blue, he immediately agrees to meet her, but is conflicted between his anger at her defection, and his lingering love for her. I won’t tell you what happens next, but we do get to learn why Rose left and what that means for their future.
While short stories can often be challenging to pull off (understanding the balance between too much and not enough detail, or characterization), Keeney does a nice job of giving us the proper setting and history without going overboard. This is Keeney’s debut publication, and it is clear that this story was near and dear to her heart. I’m looking forward to reading the next short story (and her debut novel in December); it will be a pleasure to watch Keeney develop her writing skills into increasingly refined literary work